The 1,442 sq kms Kidepo Valley National Park is founded on the rocky semi-arid karamoja province. It is among Uganda’s very most remote yet magnificent national parks which harbor scenery unrivaled in any other national park in the whole of East Africa. Several tourists who visit this park talk about the scenery and frequently promise and actually do return to re-visit Kidepo, for in accordance with them this excursion can’t be any better elsewhere.
Being a unusual Uganda safari destination, crammed in the corner of the border of Uganda with Kenya and, Kidepo National Park offers breathtaking savannah scenery, that end into a rocky horizon. It features a wide latitudinal array that offers a variety of climatic conditions which have evolved remarkably different vegetation. Essentially this has facilitated the growth of an assortment of animal species within the park which are equally plentiful among which are a number not seen in other parts of this country.
Kidepo Valley National Park is among the finest Uganda birding safari destinations. It features a bird list of more than 475 species, and as well ranks second in position to Queen Elizabeth National Park. On this list are dry eastern ” specials” are some endemics as well as East Africa’s most uncommon yet highly sought after species like the Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis.
The vegetation in Kidepo is mainly open tree Savannah grassland that differs mainly in composition plus structure. The park is mainly dominated by the Mountain forests within the high areas while areas around River Lorupei are heavily blanketed by acacia forest. The game plus vegetation in the park are rather more characteristic of Kenya than Uganda. Within the park, the terrain is dotted with tiny hills, inselbergs plus rocky outcrops which jointly make Kidepo a very unique Uganda safari destination.
KEY FACTS ABOUT KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK
Location: Karamoja Province
Size: 1442 sq km.
Elevation: 914 meters on the valley floor of Kidepo to 2749 meters the peak of Mount Morungole
Habitat: long plus short grass open tree savannas, Semi-desert scrub, riparian woodland such as Borassus plus Kigelia woodland, dense miombo- like woodland, montane forest, open thorn-scrub, granite out-crops and open thorn-bush.
Status: since 1954, the Kidepo has served as a been a National Park
Birds recorded: 475 bird species.
Best time to visit: March to April for all varieties of specials as well as several migratory species, although can be visited all year round.
Time required: 4 to 7 days
BIRD WATCHING IN THE PARK
Kidepo National Park has over and offer rewarded its visitors life memories to its visitors especially birders from all parts of the world particularly because of her great diversity of birds among which are Ostriches. At Apoka Rest Camp as well as at the park headquarters looking over the superficial southern Narus Valley provides a splendid spot for Uganda birding tour in Kidepo. The Silverbird plus small bands of the Yellow-billed Shrike are some of the stunning species commonly spotted in the thorny trees close to the camp. At the rim of the camp is a tinny permanent water-hole which attracts a y of bird species such as the Yellow-rumped Seedeater. This area is frequently visited by the Four-banded Sandgrouse, Buffaloes, plus Elephants, in addition to occasional Lions at night.
Close to the usually dry bed of the water stream not far from the camp along the trail to Amok lodge in the level grass, you will find the Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra & Crimson-rumped Waxbillood, African Moustached & Clapperton’s Francolin plus the Black Coucal.
KEY SPECIES OF BIRDS;
Superb Starling, Vinaceous Dove, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Little Green Bee-eater, Long-tailed & Standard-winged Nightjars, White-bellied Tit , Mosque Swallow, Karamoja Apalis, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-fronted & Black-breasted Barbets, Pygmy Falcon, African Grey Flycatcher, Ruppell’s & Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Ostrich, Eastern Yellow & Jackson’s Hornbills, Red-winged Lark, Little Weaver & Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Fan-tailed Raven, White-bellied & Hartlaub’s Bustards, Abyssinian & Rufous-crowned Rollers, Eastern Pale Chanting Go-shawk, Slate-coloured Boubou, Green-winged, White-faced Scoops Owl, Orange-winged & Red-winged Pytilias Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Red billed Oxpecker, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Abyssinian Ground, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Rufous & Chestnut Sparrow, Black-headed Plover, Kori, Pygmy & Beautiful Sunbirds, Violet-tipped Courser, Ethiopian Swallow, Foxy & Red pate Cisticolas, Brown-rumped Bunting , Yellow-spotted Petronia, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes Eastern Violet backed, White-browed & Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers,Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Steel-blue & Strawtailed Whydahs, Pied, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Isabelline & Heuglin’s Whea-ters, Black-bellied & Black-faded Waxbill, Fox Kestrel, Grey-capped Social & Speckle-fronted Weavers, Clapperton’s & Heuglin’s Francolins, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, Singing Bush lark, Stone Partridge.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PARK:
Kidepo National Park supports a wonderful variety of animal species in comparison to other parks. Back in 1971, of the 80 mammal species of recorded 28 were not known to be found in any other parks in Uganda. Among the resident Carnivore species only endemic to Kidepo and the Karamoja region are the hunting dog, bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena, caracal, and aardwolf. During the Rule of Idi Amin, this Kidepo Park suffered severe poaching and up to date it is still recovering from that tragedy that left some species completely depleted. Some of the species considered to be locally extinct are Beisa Oryx, Lesser Kudu plus Grant’s gazelle. However among the commonly seen species are Elephants, oribis, burchell’s zebras, jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, cape buffaloes, bohor reed bucks, warthogs, defassa water bucks, rothschild giraffes, bush duskier and elands, bush bucks, in addition to lions, common zebras, leopards, plus a number of small cats such as the side-striped jackal, Kangoni, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena. The park has five primate species including the Kavirondo bush baby being the most endemic. There are numerous Oribis within the Narus Valley, whereas the dry thorny in the north are habitat to Guenther’s Dik Dik. At night the rest camp is visited by the Senegal Galago and the White-tailed Mongoose however these can best be seen on a night game drive. In addition Kidepo supports a rich diversity of reptile species.
Chances are high of spotting the tree climbing lions which usually rest in the branches of the sausage trees close to the Narus Valley or on the rock just as you drive to the Apoka Park Headquarter.
Hiking/ Scenery viewing
Hiking is normally conducted just a couple of Kilometers from the headquarters of the park on the on Lamoj Mountains. The beautiful Kidepo river valley mainly covered by Borassus palm forest, in addition can be visited. It`s broad flat bed is actually dry through most of the year. Just 11 kilometer from Kidepo Valley are the Kanangorok hot springs which are as well worth visiting.
The mountain plus the savannah landscape within the park, together with the Narus valley found in the southwestern part of the park (the rocky Napore-Nyagia mountain range marks its western boundary) are splendid attractions within Kidepo. It is delimited by the Natira plus Lokayot hills from Kidepo Valley found in the northeast. The Lotukei Mountains found in the southern of Sudan form the northern and southern boundary of this park well marked by the Morungole range.
Additionally fascinating about this park is the river picnic site found on the sand, with the peaceful whispers of the palm leaves that are gently blown by the wind.
There is a local cultural group of entertainers who are at all times ready to perform on request. These performers offer a variety of entertainment such as traditional dances including the Emuya of the Nyangia plus the Naporre ethnic groups as well as the Larakaraka and the Apiti dances of the ethnic Acholi people. The money this group collects is used for their overall welfare and uplifting.
Nature Walk in the park;
Enhance your knowledge on the African culture as you visit the Karimajong homesteads which are locally referred to as manyattas and maybe the kraals to view their traditional costumes, jewelry, stools, bows & arrows, spears headdress plus knives. For those interested, they can purchase some of the local Karimajong traditional items as souvenirs from the tourist offices of the park. We recommend that you make arrangements for these nature walks 2 days earlier. Booking may be done at the park headquarters found in Apoka or at the headquarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Kampala.
When you the Soroti-Moroto road certainly you will be mesmerized by the sight of the steep Alekilek volcano which is almost midway Moroti and the town of Soroti. And in case you use the Lira-Kotido road, then the beautiful scenery of Labwor hills particularly the huge and uncovered Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock approximately 55 kilometers to Kotido awaits you.
Where to stay
Within the park is the private Apoka Rest Uganda Safaris Camp that looks over the Narus Valley which offers sixteen self-contained chalets or rooms at $ 75 per individual every night (full board). In addition there is a hostel offering 14 bandas each having two beds although they aren’t self contained going at $22 per individual each night. The Apoka Lodge plus the bandas are run by the park authorities, so reservations are done through the headquarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority found in Kampala.
For those interested in camping, there are 2 ‘Do it yourself’ campsites, however you should carry your personal tent as well as additional camping gear.
There is as well Kakine Campsite not so far from Apoka at $ 5 per individual each night. It offers fresh drinking water plus a drop toilet as well as firewood.
The Rest Camp and the hostel do not stock food and for that reason visitors are advised to bring enough food plus drinks for their time of stay here. The staff at the Rest Camp staff can organize and cook for you. Additional supplementary dishes like chicken plus goat meat may be arranged from the close by villages for visitors that plan to stay for a longer time.
Driving to the Park is very rewarding as large areas of Karamoja are beautiful and a wilderness. However the road conditions are at times challenging and require 4 wheel drive vehicles (4WD). Please keep in mind theta the road commonly used is from Kotido to Kabong through Kanawauat.
In case you plan to travel by road contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority to get advice regarding the conditions plus safety of the roads then.
There are chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport to the headquarters of the park. The Civil Aviation Authority runs an airstrip found at Lomej approximately 3 km south of the headquarters of the park.
Kidepo valley national park is found in the north eastern part of Uganda and is the most remote park in east Africa.
It is perhaps the least visited park in the region, and ye it is such an amazing piece of the African wilderness. Kidepo is not crowded and visitors to the park are often surprised at how unspoiled and empty of people and traffic the place is, and also by the scenic beauty of the park and the abundance of wildlife.
The park is made up of vast savannah plains and rugged mountains and has a variety of wildlife which includes elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, ostriches, Rothschild giraffes, antelopes and so much more. It is definitely worth a visit and yet not many people add it to their Uganda safari itineraries, so everyone one who visits it feels like they discovering a new part of Africa.
However the park is slowly being brought to the attention of more and more people each day, and it will not be an unvisited safari destination for much longer. More and more tour companies are encouraging their clients to visit Kidepo, but a trip there is quite costly because the park is so remote. Kidepo valley national park was even named as one of the best parks in Africa.
What did CNN travel say about Kidepo valley NP?
Here is an excerpt from the CNN travel piece on Kidepo:
“3. Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
Best for: Spectacular landscapes and great buffalo herds. With sprawling savannah and soaring mountains, Kidepo National Park might be the most picturesque park in Africa.
Sharing borders with Sudan and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, it is Uganda’s most beautiful, remote and least-explored park. Kidepo was once the playground of the late president Idi Amin and you can still visit the haunting ruins of a lodge that could just as easily have been designed as a massive bunker.
Those who take the trouble to get here are rewarded with phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity that can rarely be had at any cost in neighboring countries.”
There have been a few other references to the park over years that have brought a bit of attention to it. For example:
Stephen Cunliffe of Africa Geographic and Travel Africa in a piece about the park described Kidepo valley as “a long forgotten Eden”.
Tim Bewer of the Lonely Planet Guide Books described the park as “Blissfully remote and stunningly gorgeous…”
Although quite costly a trip, a visit to Kidepo can never be disappointing. you will find yourself making the trip a few more times and encouraging others to do so as well.
When compared to popular parks such as queen Elizabeth national park and Murchison falls national park, very few people have seen Kidepo valley national park ever since its discovery a little over 50 years ago. Those who have visited have loved it and have been impresses by the sights there but they are not very many people who have ventured there and its remoteness has not helped its cause.
Most people even those that are very well travelled, have not been to Kidepo valley national park, many have never heard of it, but the word is slowly getting out that it is time to rediscover this little wildlife gem, one of the best parks in Africa. This remote unvisited park was nominated as Africa’s Leading National Park by the World Travel awards last year.
Is there accommodation in Kidepo?
Yes there is accommodation in the Kidepo area. There is the luxurious Apoka Safari Lodge in the middle of the park, there is also the moderately priced Nga’ Moru Wilderness camp found just outside the park and the Uganda wildlife authority African style cabins otherwise known as bandas. But it will not be long before more lodges and camps begin to spring up in the area as the park grows in fame and popularity.
Is Kidepo really an unvisited park?
Yes, this beautiful wildlife park is quite unvisited but that status is not going to last much longer. With road improvement and the availability of flights to the park, visiting the park has been made easier and more and more visitors will be making the journey to this otherwise remote piece of heaven.
What is some of the wildlife found in Kidepo valley national park?
Kidepo has a variety of wildlife with over 77 animal species, some of which include elephants, giraffes, Lions-you might even see some tree climbing lions in addition to the savannah grounded lions, there are zebras, leopards,black and white and side-stripped jackal, spotted hyena, the greater and lesser kudu, Chandlers mountain reedbuck, Burchell’s Giraffe, Carcal, Klipspringer , cheetah, the bat-eared fox and many more.
The park also has a variety of bird species so those interested in bird watching will not be bored at all. Kidepo boasts of over 463 different bird species. Some of the birds in the park include: the Kori bustard, Abyssinian ground hornbill, secretary bird, ostrich, carmine, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills and some ostriches.
Some other activities in the park besides game viewing include: guided walks to explore Morungule mountain ranges, game viewing especially in Narus valley, bird watching, visiting hot springs such as Kanangarok, hiking and cultural visits. This park is remote but it is not going to remain unvisited for much longer since more and more people are learning of its existence, its beauty and all that it has to offer.